08/28/2005: "Mountains and Tourism"
I'm staring at a blank space that says "main entry text," blogging for the first time. When my eyes move up from the laptop screen I see, past our yard filled with fishing debris, overgrown raspberry bushes; beyond rooftops and power lines, tree covered Gavan Mountain.
Last weekend instead of looking at this mountain out my studio window I climbed it and followed the ridge trail to Harbor Mountain. In the four and half hours it took to make the hike I saw one other person, who actually had been lost until he saw me from a ridge above. Near the top of Gavan the clouds, misty strands of white, moved quickly in with rain. I was absorbed watching the sky change and reluctant to pull out my raingear, but I did.
It was awesome to have that solitude as I hiked. Tourism is being pushed extremely hard here in Sitka. Some days in the summer there are thousands of tourists off of cruise ships wandering through this small town, of about 8,500 people. There are more and more charter fishing businesses, stores with trinkets and different kinds of businesses and excursions for visitors. It is all good, I suppose for the economy. I know the visitors appreciate this beauty, but I don't think there is balance and thought in the pushing and there certainly isn't a lot of long range planning. I have to say I'd rather be hiking, than sitting at a meeting, or at my laptop, but as the debate heats up over building a new dock for cruise ships, and down the line, other cargo ships, it might be time to get off the mountain.